Brett Gleason has ambition on his recent self-titled album Brett Gleason. He strives to create a unique sound for himself by combining piano-based songs mixed in with electronic and other sparse organic instrumentation. Sometimes he succeeds and sometimes he falls a bit flat but he definitely is on to something with his sound. The album was a bit of a “grower” for me for a number of reasons. First, the production isn't bad but I also thought the drums were a bit muddy and his vocal sat on top on the mix rather than in it. Second, he likes dissonance, which isn’t a bad thing but sometimes takes a bit of time to get used to. After a number of spins I started appreciating more and more the originality and thought that went into the songs. When he pulls it off he really pulls it off. There were a couple of moments that I was thoroughly impressed by.
Gleason opens with “The Worst Part.” This one doesn't jump at out as being a “single.” He combines piano with sharp jagged, dissonant guitar chords and some sparse percussive and electronic elements. The next two songs “Imposter” and “Calculated” were decent efforts but the fourth song “Destruction” is where Gleason starts to shine. His best moments are the transitions and changes, which explore disparate elements and chord structures. It’s a very unique track that succeeds musically in exploring interesting ground.
“Polarity” reminded me of Scott Walker at points. Gleason explores ominous atmospheres, intricate timing and ambiguous shades of emotion through his lyrics and mood. “Unruddered” is another piece that explores lyrical ambiguity but also is rather catchy at points while “Idealize the Dead” is a sparse but dynamic closer that encompasses a lot of the strengths Gleason possesses.
Although Gleason is on to something I can't help but think Brett Gleason could still use some tweaking. A little better of a mix as well as different production choices (such as a different snare sound, more reverb on his vocals) could have benefitted some of the songs. Overall, the album was original and is quite inventive although that may not be overtly apparent on the first listen.
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